US - Georgia - Full Moon 87 - 11/09/03
Bad Day EP
In connection with the release of another 'best of' collection R.E.M. have been checking their
old cupboard drawers to come up with a new song never before released. Just to get the fans a small
bonus when they buy a collection of songs they probably already have got. I used to be a huge fan.
HUGE. Not now. It's not that I don't like them any more. I still find them alright (without buying
the records), respecting them for what they do, finding them as likable superstars (well, I haven't
been next to Peter Buck during a Trans Atlantic flight...). And "Bad Day" drew my tension.
"Bad Day" is an oldie, a vintage R.E.M. 'classic', ca 1986-87 model. It was originally
written/made/recorded at that time (from the Life's Rich Pageant sessions (?) - could've been
included on Document), but was put away and has now been given a 'makeover', a polish. Which
has given it a too clean sound I think. Anyway, it's a wonderful, trippy, wordflowing piece of work,
reminding me of "It's The End Of the World..." (maybe that's the reason "Bad Day" didn't make it
onto Document ?). "Bad Day" is also R.E.M. at the most 'political', or as clear as Stipe can
be lyrically. "Shit's so thick you could stir it with a
stick / Free teflon whitewashed presidency / We're sick of being jerked around / Wear that on your
sleeve". Since it was written USA and the two Bushes have been fighting wars in sandy areas
of the world, both times broadcast front-line live. "The
lights went out, the oil ran dry / We blamed it on the other guy". "Broadcast
me a joyful noise into the times, Lord...". Oh, yeah. Also check the video (directed by Tim
There are three extra songs added on this EP. Two of them, "Favorite Writer" and "Out In The Country",
are cover songs - by fellow Athenians Maganapop (Stipe produced some of their material back in the ebb
of the 1980s), and by Three Dog Night ! "Favorite Writer" is rather anonymous and grey, but "Out In The
Country" (with Mills singing) is quite catchy and merry. The last song and second R.E.M. original, the
instrumental "Adagio", I find rather, uh, tepid.
All in all a typical single: one outstanding song overshadowing the usual b-sides. But it's good
to hear R.E.M. again. It's time for yet anoher sweep through their back catalogue.
And, yes, contributing musicians are: guitarist Scott McCaughney (Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus
5 - see our interview) and drummer Bill
Rieflin (a long time member of Ministry - till Al went mental, the Revolting Cocks, Swans, and
Copyright © 2003 Håvard Oppøyen